I strongly wholeheartedly welcome the decision of the Voice of People Party (VPP) to launch a public movement and to organise a sit-in demonstration against the illegal and unreasonable termination of the Meghalaya Lokayukta inquiry officers. I as a citizen of Meghalaya highly appreciate and admire the stand taken by the VPP leaders in raising their voice against the corruption and unreasonable sacking of the inquiry officers of Meghalaya Lokayukta.
I firmly believe and consider that decision of VPP to protest against illegal termination of the officers of the State Lokayukta is genuine and lawful and I could see that there is no political motivation as their main object is to eliminate corruption from the State and to reinstate those officer who were unlawfully terminated from their service, and therefore I request every citizen of the State to support the their cause as responsible citizens it is duty of each of us and the society as a whole to strongly denounce corruption as it is against the humanity. We as responsible citizens of the State should unite and fight against corruption.
I also fervently support the ideology of the VPP for vehemently opposing the various political appointments in different government departments of the State government which contribute nothing good or productive for the State.
In replying to the statement of Himalaya M. Shangpliang the spokesperson of NPP and ex-IAS nominated officer and in replying the statement of the present Deputy Chief Minister which appeared on January 9, 2024 and January 17, 2024 respectively whereby Shangpliang stated that “as per section 10(2) and 11 of the Meghalaya Lokayukta Act, 2014, officers or staff of the State Lokayukta must come from the government”. He also said that retired government officials cannot be part of the Lokayukta.
Section 10(2) of Meghalaya Lokayukta read as “There shall be a Director of Inquiry and Director of Prosecution not below the rank of Additional Secretary of the State government or equivalent, who shall be appointed by the chairperson from a panel of names sent by the State government.” Section 11(1) read as “Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for time being in force, the Lokayukta shall constitute an Inquiry Wing headed by the Director of Inquiry for the purpose of conducting preliminary inquiry into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Provided that till such time the Inquiry Wing is constituted by Lokayukta, the State government shall make available such numbers of officers and other staff from such of its departments, as may be required by the Lokayukta for conducting preliminary inquiry under this Act.”
From the above mentioned Section 10(2) and Section 11(1) I beg to make the following points:-
That Section 10(2) of the Meghalaya Lokayukta Act never stated anything that only the in-service officers should be appointed as Director of Inquiry and Director of Prosecution of the State Lokayukta. Therefore, there is no bar to appoint retired government officers as the officers of the Lokayukta. As such, the appointment of retired officers is legal and valid.
Section 11(1) clearly stated that in order that the Inquiry Wing is constituted by Lokayukta, the State government shall make available such numbers of officers and other staff from such departments. The Act only says that the State government shall make available such a number of officers and there is no explanation and specific definition in the Act that retired government officers cannot be appointed as the officers of the Meghalaya Lokayukta. The Act only states that the government shall make available such officers.
The ex-Director of Inquiry and Prosecution of Meghalaya Lokayukta Jainal Rymmai was a retired IPS officer and retired Deputy Inspector of General Police whose rank was higher than the Additional Secretary to the Government of Meghalaya or equivalent to the Additional Secretary to the Government of Meghalaya.
The term/tenure of the three officers who were illegally removed from service in the State Lokayukta was three years (fixed). Therefore, if at all the government found that there are anomalies in appointment of these three officers at least the government should allow them to complete their term. Why suddenly without any show cause or any notice they have been terminated from service in the State Lokayukta.
It is the first time in the history of Meghalaya Lokayukta that it has chargesheeted against the present MLA of NPP Sanjay A. Sangma with the help of those three officers. These officers were monitoring the ongoing investigation against Twinkle Newal, sister-in-law of Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma, who is the contractor in a Garo documentary film which remains incomplete till date. Therefore, the unreasonable and illegal sacking of the three officers of Lokayukta is highly condemnable.
The illegal termination of those three officers is a gross violation of Article 311(2) and violation of many other service rules therein. Article 311(2) states that “no person shall be dismissed or removed or reduced in rank except after an inquiry in which he or she has been charged against him or her and heard in respect of those charges.” Here in the instant case, no show cause notice, no opportunity to be heard was given to those officers. Article 311 and other service rules are applicable even to contractual appointment, and hence the removal of those officers is a clear violation of the principle of natural justice.
That, at the time when Justice (Retd) P K Mushahary was the Chairman of the Meghalaya Lokayukta, F D Sangma, a retired government officer was appointed as Director of Prosecution Wing of Meghalaya Lokayukta and the State government allowed him to complete his term and interestingly, the government never claimed of any anomalies.
That, the government’s claim that there were anomalies in appointment of those three officers whom it has illegally terminated is just a lame excuse as the government had approved the appointment of those three officers after thorough examination and after proper scrutiny and more importantly during the process of appointment, the documents of those three officers moved from different departments like Personnel Department, Finance Department and others and none of the departments had questioned the legality of their appointment.
In view of the above, I strongly condemn the illegal action of the Government of Meghalaya and express my displeasure with the illegal removal of those three officers. Therefore cutting across political lines, I strongly support the mature decision taken by the VPP in raising its voice against the illegal termination of the three Lokayukta officers and against various political appointments and misgovernance by the present ruling dispensation.
State Working President
Human Rights and Anti Corruption Youth Power of India